This post was first published here on April 28, 2009.
The Obama administration has broken yet another campaign promise. Far-left Labor Secretary Hilda Solis is rolling back requirements for labor unions to publicly disclose financial data, including the salaries of union bosses.
Why is this important?
Because it allows labor unions to run roughshod over the rights of their members. While businesses remain heavily regulated, labor unions get off easy. As the Washington Times reports:
The Labor Department noted in a recent disclosure that “it would not be a good use of resources” to bring enforcement actions against union officials who do not comply with conflict of interest reporting rules passed in 2007. Instead, union officials will now be allowed to file older, less detailed conflict reports.
The regulation, known as the LM-30 rule, was at the heart of a lawsuit that the AFL-CIO filed against the department last year. One of the union attorneys in the case, Deborah Greenfield, is now a high-ranking deputy at Labor, who also worked on the Obama transition team on labor issues.
Labor officials declined to say whether she played a role in the new policy, noting that Ms. Greenfield is abiding by all government ethics rules. In court filings, she and other union attorneys called the 2007 rules “onerous.”
The Labor Department also is rescinding another key labor financial disclosure regulation. The expansion of the so-called LM-2 rule, approved during the last days of the Bush administration, requires unions to report more information about finances and labor leaders’ compensation on annual reports.
The hard work of President Bush’s labor secretary, Elaine Chao, is in the process of being reversed by the Obama administration. Unlike Hilda Solis, Elaine Chao understood that the function of the Department of Labor is to police abuses both by unions and businesses. Chao liked to point out that her agency was the Department of Labor, not the Department of Unions.
While Chao was in charge of the Department of Labor, the Office of Labor Management Standards uncovered fraud by union officials, “leading to 1,004 indictments with 929 convictions, and recovering more than $93 million on behalf of union members,” writes Philip Klein of the American Spectator. The decision by Solis to let labor unions skimp on public disclosure gives them more power to defraud their membership.
“So much for Obamaâ€™s new era of transparency,” adds Klein.